Dates for assembly

29th October 2004 at 01:00
November 12 Diwali

This new year festival (celebrated by Sikhs and Jains as well as Hindus) extends over five days and is an affirmation of hope, friendship and goodwill

Outline script for assembly leaders

Long ago, in the city of Ayodhya, there lived a prince called Rama. When his father, who was King of Ayodhya, died jealous people forced Rama to flee the city. His beautiful wife Sita went with him and they spent 14 years living in a dark forest where they had many adventures and faced many dangers.

One day, an evil demon called Ravana captured Sita and carried her off to an island called Lanka. During their time in the forest, Rama had made many friends and they, together with Rama, fought a terrible battle to rescue Sita. Finally, Rama was able to kill Ravana by shooting an arrow into his heart.

By now, Rama and Sita were able to return to Ayodhya. As they reached the outskirts of the city it was getting dark, but a woman saw them coming and lit a lamp to show them the way. Her neighbour lit another. Others placed candles in their windows to celebrate the return of the brave King Rama.

Every year, at this time, Hindus remember how Rama triumphed over evil and how light triumphs over darkness. The celebration of his return is called Diwali or "deepavali", which means "a row of lamps". Many Hindus also believe Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, visits every home where a row of lights is burning and brings good luck for the coming year.

Homes are thoroughly cleaned at the start of the festival and, as dusk falls, lamps are lit in every room and outside in the porch or garden.

Weather permitting, windows may be left open to welcome Lakshmi. People exchange Diwali cards and gifts of sweets, especially milky and coconut ones. Fireworks are lit and shops and town centres (notably Leicester) are also decorated.

Follow-up

Create "rangoli". These are patterns made of coloured powder, chalk, sand or rice and often show Lakshmi holding a lotus flower. They are created on the floor near doorways to welcome the goddess. There is material on the DfES standards site (www. standards.dfes.gov.uk schemesreligion) relevant to RE KS1 and KS2 Unit 3b which features Diwali. Cheslyn Hay Primary School, Staffordshire, describes on its website how it marked Diwali.

www.cheslynhay. org.uk (click on "Foundation")

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